Alethicfunctionalism, as propounded by Michael Lynch, is the view that there are different ways to be true, but that these differences nevertheless contain enough unity to forestall outright pluralism. This view has many virtues. Yet, since one could conceivably apply Lynch’s “one and many” strategy to other debates, I try to show how his argumentative steps can be used to solve — not just the controversy pertaining to truth — but any controversy that surrounds a “What is (...) X?” question. (shrink)
Michael Lynch has recently proposed an updated version of alethicfunctionalism according to which the relation between truth per se and lower-level truth properties is not the realization relation, as might be expected, and as Lynch himself formerly held, but the manifestation relation. I argue that the manifestation relation is merely a resemblance relation and is inadequate to properly relate truth per se to lower-level truth properties. I also argue that alethicfunctionalism does not justify the (...) claim that truth per se exists, or that truth per se is a functional property. Finally, I suggest a replacement for the manifestation relation. I argue that the resulting theory is a strict improvement over alethicfunctionalism on two counts, but that the improved theory does not justify the claim that truth per se exists. Since no further improvements to the theory are apparent, the prospects for alethicfunctionalism are dim. (shrink)
According to alethicfunctionalism, truth is a generic alethic property related to lower level alethic properties through the manifestation relation. The manifestation relation is reflexive; thus, a proposition’s truth-manifesting property may be a lower level property or truth itself, depending on the subject matter properties of the proposition. A true proposition whose truth-manifesting property is truth itself, rather than a lower level alethic property, is plainly true. Alethicfunctionalism relies on plain truth to (...) account for the truth of propositions with challenging subject matter properties, such as logically complex propositions and truth attributions. In this paper, it is argued that plain truth leads to a number of serious problems for alethicfunctionalism. First: Shapiro argues that plain truth threatens alethicfunctionalism with collapse to strong alethic monism; it is argued here that collapse is not merely threatened, but that, on pain of contradiction, collapse is immediate. Second, alethicfunctionalism’s commitment to alethic pluralism requires lower level alethic properties to be ways of being truth, where one property’s being a way of being the other property is irreflexive; thus, alethicfunctionalism is incoherent due to the conflicting commitments to a manifestation relation which is both reflexive and irreflexive. Third, it is argued that a reflexive manifestation relation leads to the contradiction that a lower level alethic property which manifests truth is both identical to and distinct from truth itself. Fourth, careful examination of the notion of a core truism shows that Objectivity and the correspondence intuition are the only core truisms. Finally, it is argued that the first and fourth problems jointly entail a collapse of alethicfunctionalism to strong correspondence monism. (shrink)
According to Lynch’s aletich functionalism truth is manifested by/immanent in different properties in different domains of discourse; so a core concept of AlethicFunctionalism is the concept of the relation of manifestation holding between truth and other properties. The claim I’m going to defend is that Lynch makes too many theoretical demands on the manifestation relation and this makes it a metaphysical monster, that is to say a relation with mutually inconsistent features. In order to make manifestation (...) a coherent notion one should give up some of its original features, but this makes AlethicFunctionalism a much less appealing theory than it was supposed to be. (shrink)
Alethic pluralists argue truth is a metaphysically robust higher-order property that is multiply realized by a set of diverse and domain-specific subvening alethic properties. The higher-order truth property legitimizes mixed inferences and accounts for a univocal truth predicate. Absent of this higher-order property, pluralists lack an account of the validity of mixed inferences and an adequate semantics for the truth predicate and thereby appear forced to abandon the central tenets of alethic pluralism. I argue the use of (...) many-valued logics to support pluralism fails to address the pluralistâs metaphysical problem regarding mixed inferences and mixed truth functional connectives. The high degree of heterogeneity of the alethic realizers challenges the plausibility of a single higher-order functional property. A functional property with such a heterogeneous base cannot be projectable at a theoretically significant level. The problem with mixed inferences and truth functions is but one symptom of the deeper projectability problem. (shrink)
According to alethicfunctionalism, truth is a higher-order multiply realizable property of propositions. After briefly presenting the views main principles and motivations, I defend alethicfunctionalism from recent criticisms raised against it by Cory Wright. Wright argues that alethicfunctionalism will collapse either into deflationism or into a view that takes true as simply ambiguous. I reject both claims.
Alethicfunctionalism is a sophisticated version of alethic pluralism according to which truth per se is a functional property supervening on lower level truth properties. After presenting alethicfunctionalism, I discuss four objections to it. I raise a new objection to alethicfunctionalism that if Objectivity, Norm of Belief, and End of Inquiry are the three truisms, correspondence is necessary and sufficient to satisfy the truisms, so that alethicfunctionalism capitulates to (...) a correspondence theory of truth. Second, I present a new argument that on alethicfunctionalism, truth per se is explanatorily epiphenomenal. Third, examining the case of mixed compound propositions shows that the principle which alethicfunctionalism adopts for determining which lower level truth property is required for a mixed compound proposition to be true has counterintuitive results and is arbitrary. Finally, I argue that alethicfunctionalism is unable to account for the intuition that a true truth attribution is true because of the proposition(s) to which truth is attributed. (shrink)
The essay is an attempt to offer a version of conceptual relativism that escapes Donald Davidson’s decisive criticisms of the notion of “conceptual scheme”. Two variants of relativism are distinguished, a weaker and a stronger one, and a clear formulation of what a strong version amounts to is put forward. The concrete proposal involves accepting a version of alethic pluralism. After discussing alethic pluralism in general, and after exploring both strong and weak versions of it, a suitable version (...) is presented: alethicfunctionalism. The final part offers an illustration of how embracing alethicfunctionalism may help the relativist. (shrink)
Traditional inflationary approaches that specify the nature of truth are attractive in certain ways; yet, while many of these theories successfully explain why propositions in certain domains of discourse are true, they fail to adequately specify the nature of truth because they run up against counterexamples when attempting to generalize across all domains. One popular consequence is skepticism about the efficaciousness of inﬂationary approaches altogether. Yet, by recognizing that the failure to explain the truth of disparate propositions often stems from (...) inflationary approaches' allegiance to alethic monism, pluralist approaches are able to avoid this explanatory inadequacy and the resulting skepticism, though at the cost of inviting other conceptual difficulties. A novel approach, alethicfunctionalism, attempts to circumvent the problems faced by pluralist approaches while preserving their main insights. Unfortunately, it too generates additional problems---namely, with its suspect appropriation of the multiple realizability paradigm and its platitude-based strategy---that need to be dissolved before it can constitute an adequate inflationary approach to the nature of truth. (shrink)
Functionalism about truth is the view that truth is an explanatorily significant but multiply-realizable property. According to this view the properties that realize truth vary from domain to domain, but the property of truth is a single, higher-order, domain insensitive property. We argue that this view faces a challenge similar to the one that Jaegwon Kim laid out for the multiple realization thesis. The challenge is that the higher-order property of truth is equivalent to an explanatorily idle disjunction of (...) its realization bases. This consequence undermines the alethic functionalists’ non-deflationary ambitions. A plausible response to Kim’s argument fails to carry over to alethicfunctionalism on account of significant differences between alethicfunctionalism and psychological functionalism. Lynch’s revised view in his book Truth as One and Many ( 2009 ) fails to answer our challenge. The upshot is that, while mental functionalism may survive Kim’s argument, it mortally wounds functionalism about truth. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of various forms of alethic pluralism. Along the way we will draw a number of distinctions that, hopefully, will be useful in mapping the pluralist landscape. Finally, we will argue that a commitment to alethic disjunctivism, a certain brand of pluralism, might be difficult to avoid for adherents of the other pluralist views to be discussed. We will proceed as follows: Section 1 introduces alethic monism and (...) class='Hi'>alethic pluralism. Section 2 presents a distinction between strong and moderate versions of monism and pluralism, understood as theses about the existence of truth properties. Section 3 introduces four pluralist positions: strong alethic pluralism, alethic disjunctivism, second-order functionalism and manifestation functionalism. These positions are classified using the basic framework from Section 2, and a further distinction between pure and mixed versions of pluralism is drawn. Interestingly, alethic disjunctivism and the two kinds of functionalism—i.e. three out of four positions— have a mixed character. They incorporate a monist thesis. The only pure form of pluralism is strong alethic pluralism. Section 4 adds another distinction to the stock: one-level and two-level views. Each of the mixed positions operates with two levels, locating certain “alethically potent”—or grounding—properties at a lower level and others at a higher level. We briefly discuss the nature of grounding. In Section 5, we answer a question about mixed, two-level views, viz. whether they are as much monist as pluralist in nature, or more. They are not. Section 6 is devoted to the task of arguing that the strong pluralist, the second-order functionalist, and the manifestation functionalist will find it hard to deny a commitment to alethic disjunctivism. (shrink)
Sellars, Brandom, and McDowell (whom Maher aptly calls the “Pittsburgh School”) have tremendous influence on the current shape of the analytic tradition. Despite their differing views on philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and epistemology, their shared application of ‘normative functionalism’ highlights important similarities in their approaches to the aforementioned disciplines. Normative functionalism interprets the ability to form judgments, possess concepts, rationally defend or be critical of judgments, and consequently act as an agent, as (...) largely guided by one’s responsiveness to norms. In this article, I argue for two related claims. First, I argue that the Pittsburgh School’s normative functionalism has germinated from the seed of Sellars’ ‘psychological nominalism’ and cannot be separated from it. Second, no philosophical question or approach can be free of competing claims as to the manner in which human beings think, communicate, act, and know. As a result, normative functionalism (insofar as it is a natural extension of psychological nominalism) is relevant to many philosophical disciplines, because it opposes nearly all the traditional views concerning how the human intellect comes into being and functionally operates. (shrink)
According to proper functionalist theories of warrant, a belief is warranted only if it is formed by cognitive faculties that are properly functioning according to a good, truth-aimed design plan, one that is often thought to be specified either by intentional design or by natural selection. A formidable challenge to proper functionalist theories is the Swampman objection, according to which there are scenarios involving creatures who have warranted beliefs but whose cognitive faculties are not properly functioning, or are poorly designed, (...) or are not aimed at truth. In this paper, we draw lessons from cognitive science in order to develop a novel argument for the conclusion that the Swampman objection fails against proper functionalist theories of warrant. Our argument not only shows that the underlying, central intuition motivating Swampman-like scenarios is false but also motivates proper function as a necessary condition for warrant, thereby lending support to the claim that any theory of knowledge that lacks a proper function requirement is false. (shrink)
It is argued that although George Bealer's influential ‘Self-Consciousness argument’ refutes standard versions of reductive functionalism (RF), it fails to generalize in the way Bealer supposes. To wit, he presupposes that any version of RF must take the content of ‘pain’ to be the property of being in pain (and so on), which is expressly rejected in independently motivated versions of conceptual role semantics (CRS). Accordingly, there are independently motivated versions of RF, incorporating CRS, which avoid Bealer's main type (...) of refutation. I focus particularly on one such theory, which takes concepts to be event types that are individuated by their psychological roles, which has the resources of responding to each of the more specific worries Bealer expresses. (shrink)
Fleshing out Ramsey-sentence functionalism; against Lewis's "mad pain" mixed theory; relating functionalism to the causal theory of properties. Empirical functionalism is chauvinistic so probably false. A terrific, in-depth paper.
There have been few attempts to answer the twin challenges for alethic pluralists to maintain standard accounts of the logical operators and of logical consequence in a sufficiently systematic and precise way. In this paper, I propose an account of logic and semantics on behalf of pluralists that answers both challenges in a sufficiently systematic and precise way. Crucially, the account accommodates mixed atomics, and its first-order extension also accommodates quantified sentences. Accordingly, pluralists can answer all the distinctively logical (...) challenges for their view. (shrink)
The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of (...)functionalism. (shrink)
The recent literature on mental causation has not been kind to nonreductive, materialist functionalism (‘functionalism’, hereafter, except where that term is otherwise qualified). The exclusion problem2 has done much of the damage, but the epiphenomenalist threat has taken other forms. Functionalism also faces what I will call the ‘problem of metaphysically necessary effects’ (Block, 1990, pp. 157-60, Antony and Levine, 1997, pp. 91-92, Pereboom, 2002, p. 515, Millikan, 1999, p. 47, Jackson, 1998, pp. 660-61). Functionalist mental properties (...) are individuated partly by their relation to the very effects those properties’ instantiations are thought to cause. Consequently, functionalist causal generalizations would seem to have the following problematical structure: The state of being, among other things, a cause of e (under such-andsuch conditions) causes e (under those conditions).3 The connection asserted lacks the contingency one would expect of a causal generalization. Mental states of the kind in question are, by metaphysical necessity, causes of e; any state that does not cause e is thereby a different kind of state. Yet, a mental state’s being the sort of state it is must play some causal role if functionalism is to account for mental causation.4 In what follows, I first articulate more fully the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I then criticize three functionalist attempts to solve the problem directly. Given the failure of functionalist efforts to meet the problem head-on, I consider less direct strategies: these involve formulating functionalism or its causal claims in such a way that they appear not to generate the problem of metaphysically necessary effects. I argue against these indirect solutions, in each case concluding either that the problem still arises or that avoiding it requires the adoption of an unorthodox form of functionalism (itself a surprising result). In the final.. (shrink)
What is Functionalism? Functionalism is one of the major proposals that have been offered as solutions to the mind/body problem. Solutions to the mind/body problem usually try to answer questions such as: What is the ultimate nature of the mental? At the most general level, what makes a mental state mental? Or more specifically, What do thoughts have in common in virtue of which they are thoughts? That is, what makes a thought a thought? What makes a pain (...) a pain? Cartesian Dualism said the ultimate nature of the mental was to be found in a special mental substance. Behaviorism identified mental states with behavioral dispositions; physicalism in its most influential version identifies mental states with brain states. Functionalism says that mental states are constituted by their causal relations to one another and to sensory inputs and behavioral outputs. Functionalism is one of the major theoretical developments of Twentieth Century analytic philosophy, and provides the conceptual underpinnings of much work in cognitive science. (shrink)
Some philosophers have conflated functionalism and computationalism. I reconstruct how this came about and uncover two assumptions that made the conflation possible. They are the assumptions that (i) psychological functional analyses are computational descriptions and (ii) everything may be described as performing computations. I argue that, if we want to improve our understanding of both the metaphysics of mental states and the functional relations between them, we should reject these assumptions.
We commonly say that some evidence supports a hypothesis or that some premise evidentially supports a conclusion. Both internalists and externalists attempt to analyze this notion of evidential support, and the primary purpose of this paper is to argue that reliabilist and proper functionalist accounts of this relation fail. Since evidential support is one component of inferential justification, the upshot of this failure is that their accounts of inferential justification also fail. In Sect. 2, I clarify the evidential support relation. (...) In Sects. 3–5, I subject reliabilist and proper functionalist accounts of evidential support to various counterexamples. In Sect. 6, I show that the most promising ways to address these counterexamples aren’t very promising. (shrink)
“Triviality arguments” against functionalism in the philosophy of mind hold that the claim that some complex physical system exhibits a given functional organization is either trivial or has much less content than is usually supposed. I survey several earlier arguments of this kind, and present a new one that overcomes some limitations in the earlier arguments. Resisting triviality arguments is possible, but requires functionalists to revise popular views about the “autonomy” of functional description.
Functionalist theories have been proposed for just about everything: mental states, dispositions, moral properties, truth, causation, and much else. The time has come for a functionalist theory of nothing. Or, more accurately, a role functionalist theory of those absences that are causes and effects.
How should ‘the physical’ be defined for the purpose of formulating physicalism? In this paper I defend a version of the via negativa according to which a property is physical just in case it is neither fundamentally mental nor possibly realized by a fundamentally mental property. The guiding idea is that physicalism requires functionalism, and thus that being a type identity theorist requires being a realizer-functionalist. In §1 I motivate my approach partly by arguing against Jessica Wilson's no fundamental (...) mentality constraint. In §2 I set out my preferred definition of ‘the physical’ and make my case that physicalism requires functionalism. In §3 I defend my proposal by attacking the leading alternative account of ‘the physical,’ the theory-based conception. Finally, in §4 I draw on my definition, together with Jaegwon Kim's account of intertheoretic reduction, to defend the controversial view that physicalism requires a priori physicalism. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker argues that the functionalist theory of mind entails a psychological-continuity view of personal identity, as well as providing a defense of that view against a crucial objection. I show that his view has surprising consequences, e.g. that no organism could have mental properties and that a thing's mental properties fail to supervene even weakly on its microstructure and surroundings. I then argue that the view founders on "fission" cases and rules out our being material things. Functionalism tells (...) us little if anything about personal identity. (shrink)
The central argument for functionalism is the so-called argument from multiple realizations. According to this argument, because a functionally characterized system admits a potential infinity of structurally diverse physical realizations, the functional organization of such systems cannot be captured in a law-like manner at the level of physical description (and, thus, must be treated as a principally autonomous domain of inquiry). I offer a rebuttal of this argument based on formal modeling of its premises in the framework of automata (...) theory. In this formal model I exploit the so-called minimal (universal) realizations of automata behaviors to show that the argument from multiple realizations is not just invalid but is refutable, in the sense that its premises (when made formally precise) entail the very opposite of the functionalist's conclusion. (shrink)
Role-functionalism for mental events attempts to avoid epiphenomenalism without psychophysical identities. The paper addresses the question of whether it can succeed. It is argued that there is considerable reason to believe it cannot avoid epiphenomenalism, and that if it cannot, then it is untenable. It is pointed out, however, that even if role- functionalism is indeed an untenable theory of mental events, a role-functionalism account of mental dispositions has some intuitive plausibility.
This paper investigates whether there is an acceptable version of Functionalism that avoids commitment to second-order properties. I argue that the answer is "no". I consider two reductionist versions of Functionalism, and argue that both are compatible with multiple realization as such. There is a more specific type of multiple realization that poses difficulties for these views, however. The only apparent Functionalist solution is to accept second-order properties.
Lockean accounts of personal identity face a problem of too many thinkers arising from their denial that we are identical to our animals and the assumption that our animals can think. Sydney Shoemaker has responded to this problem by arguing that it is a consequence of functionalism that only things with psychological persistence conditions can have mental properties, and thus that animals cannot think. I discuss Shoemaker’s argument and demonstrate two ways in which it fails. Functionalism does not (...) rid the Lockean of the problem of too many thinkers. (shrink)
In her 2007 paper, “Argument Has No Function” Jean Goodwin takes exception with what she calls the “explicit function claims”, arguing that not only are function-based accounts of argumentation insufficiently motivated, but they fail to ground claims to normativity. In this paper I stake out the beginnings of a functionalist answer to Goodwin.
Some philosophers have regarded the connection between hues and certain arousal or affective qualities as so intimate as to make them inseparable, and this “necessary concomitance view” has been invoked to defend functionalism against arguments based on inverted spectra. Support for the necessary concomitance view has sometimes been thought to accrue from experiments in psychology. This paper examines three experiments, two of which apparently offer support for the view. It argues that careful consideration of these experiments undermines this appearance (...) of support. General lessons are drawn concerning the problem that individual differences present for functionalism, and the difficulty of supporting strong conclusions about concomitance by using the methods of experimental psychology. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker has claimed that functionalism, a theory\nabout mental states, implies a certain theory about the\nidentity over time of persons, the entities that have\nmental states. He also claims that persons can survive a\n"Brain-State-Transfer" procedure. My examination of these\nclaims includes description and analysis of imaginary\ncases, but--notably--not appeals to our "intuitions"\nconcerning them. It turns out that Shoemaker's basic\ninsight is correct. But there is no implication that it is\nnecessary. (edited).
The challenge for alethic pluralists to maintain a standard, truth-functional account of the logical operators has received some attention. In this paper, I consider a related but more fundamental challenge, to maintain a compositional account of the logical operators, which has received much less attention. I argue that, given natural assumptions, pluralists cannot answer this challenge.
We argue that the causal account offered by analytic functionalism provides the best account of the folk psychological theory of mind, and that people ordinarily define mental states relative to the causal roles these states occupy in relation to environmental impingements, external behaviors, and other mental states. We present new empirical evidence, as well as review several key studies on mental state ascription to diverse types of entities such as robots, cyborgs, corporations and God, and explain how this evidence (...) supports a functional account. We also respond to two challenges to this view based on the embodiment hypothesis, or the claim that physical realizers matter over and above functional role, and qualia. In both cases we conclude that research to date best supports a functional account of ordinary mental state concepts. (shrink)
Recent work by Jaegwon Kim and others suggest that functionalism leaves mental properties causally inefficacious in some sense. I examine three lines of argument for this conclusion. The first appeals to Occam's Razor; the second appeals to a ban on overdetermination; and the third charges that the kind of response I favor to these arguments forces me to give up "the homogeneity of mental and physical causation". I show how each argument fails. While I concede that a positive theory (...) of mental causation is desirable, there is no reason to think that functionalism renders such a theory unattainable. (shrink)
The paper defends Functionalism against the charge that it would make mental properties inefficacious. It outlines two ways of formulating the doctrine that mental properties are Functional properties and shows that both allow mental properties to be efficacious. The first (Lewis) approach takes functional properties to be the occupants of causal roles. Block  has argued that mental properties should not be characterized in this way because it would make them properties of the ?implementing science?, e. g. neuroscience. I (...) show why this is not a problem. The second way of formulating the doctrine takes functional properties to be causal role properties. I claim that mental properties so understood would only be inefficacious if a law-centred rather than a property-centred approach is adopted to the introduction of efficacy into the world. I develop a property-centred account that explains how mental properties can be efficacacious without introducing systematic overdetermination. At the close, I provide a better characterization of the difference between these two approaches and offer an explanation as to why my way of resolving the problems has been missed. (shrink)
The paper contains an argument against functionalist theories of consciousness. The argument exploits an intuition to the effect that parts of an individual's brain that are not in use at a time t, can have no bearing on whether that individual is conscious at t. After presenting the argument, I defend it against two possible objections, and then distinguish it from two arguments to which it appears, on the surface to be similar.
This paper demonstrates that there is an inconsistency in functionalism in psychology and philosophy of mind. Analogous inconsistencies can be expected in functionalisms in biology and social theory. (edited).
In this essay, I argue that Sartre's notion of pre-reflective consciousness can be summoned to offer a general challenge to contemporary functionalist accounts of mind, broadly construed. In virtue of the challenge Sartre offers these contemporary functionalist accounts and the richness of his phenomenological analysis, I conclude that his voice needs to be included in ongoing debates over the nature of consciousness. First, I look at some of the basic claims motivating functionalist accounts of mind. Next, I look at Sartre's (...) notion of pre-reflective consciousness and discuss how this notion challenges functionalist accounts of mentality. I conclude by suggesting that Sartre's rendering of pre-reflective consciousness remains overly cognitivist. I show how this notion can be deepened to include the sensory-motor capacities of the situated body—resulting in a pre-reflective bodily self-awareness—and how this deepened formulation offers a further challenge to functionalist accounts of mind. (shrink)
Most philosophers appear to have ignored the distinction between the broad concept of Virtual Machine Functionalism (VMF) described in Sloman&Chrisley (2003) and the better known version of functionalism referred to there as Atomic State Functionalism (ASF), which is often given as an explanation of what Functionalism is, e.g. in Block (1995). -/- One of the main differences is that ASF encourages talk of supervenience of states and properties, whereas VMF requires supervenience of machines that are arbitrarily (...) complex networks of causally interacting (virtual, but real) processes, possibly operating on different time-scales, examples of which include many different procesess usually running concurrently on a modern computer performing various tasks concerned with handling interfaces to physical devices, managing the file system, dealing with security, providing tools, entertainments, and games, and possibly processing research data. Another example of VMF would be the kind of functionalism involved in a large collection of possibly changing socio-economic structures and processes interacting in a complex community, and yet another is illustrated by the kind of virtual machinery involved in the many levels of visual processing of information about spatial structures, processes, and relationships (including percepts of moving shadows, reflections, highlights, optical-flow patterns and changing affordances) as you walk through a crowded car-park on a sunny day: generating a whole zoo of interacting qualia. (Forget solitary red patches, or experiences thereof.) -/- Perhaps VMF should be re-labelled "Virtual MachinERY Functionalism" because the word 'machinery' more readily suggests something complex with interacting parts. VMF is concerned with virtual machines that are made up of interacting concurrently active (but not necessarily synchronised) chunks of virtual machinery which not only interact with one another and with their physical substrates (which may be partly shared, and also frequently modified by garbage collection, metabolism, or whatever) but can also concurrently interact with and refer to various things in the immediate and remote environment (via sensory/motor channels, and possible future technologies also). I.e. virtual machinery can include mechanisms that create and manipulate semantic content, not only syntactic structures or bit patterns as digital virtual machines do. -/- Please note: Click on the title above or the link below to read the paper. I prefer to keep all my papers freely accessible on my web site so that I can correct mistakes and add improvements. -/- http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/vm-functionalism.html -/- This is now part of the Meta-Morphogenesis project: http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/meta-morphogenesis.html. (shrink)
In some recent articles, Jaegwon Kim has argued that non-reductive physicalism is a myth: when it comes to the mind-body problem, the only serious options are reductionism, eliminativism, and dualism. And when it comes to reductionism, Kim is inclined to regard a functionalist theory of the mind as the best available option—mostly because it offers the best explanation of mind-body supervenience. In this paper, I will discuss Kim’s views about functionalism. They may be contended on two general grounds. First, (...) some functionalists will object to being classified as reductionists. Second, Kim argues for a version (or a reading) of functionalism, conceptualized functionalism, that makes it rather similar to the “old” mind-body identity theory it was designed to replace. Moreover, Kim’s conceptualized functionalism turns out to be a somewhat surprising brand of reductionism—a reductionism with some eliminativist cut-outs and, possibly, some dualist leftovers. At the end of the paper I propose a construal of the more standard version of functionalism that obviates Kim’s argument for switching-over to his conceptualized version. (shrink)
Functionalism, a philosophical theory, has empirical consequences. Functionalism predicts that where systematic transformations of sensory input occur and are followed by behavioral accommodation in which normal function of the organism is restored such that the causes and effects of the subject's psychological states return to those of the period prior to the transformation, there will be a return of qualia or subjective experiences to those present prior to the transform. A transformation of this type that has long been (...) of philosophical interest is the possibility of an inverted spectrum. Hilary Putnam argues that the physical possibility of acquired spectrum inversion refutes functionalism. I argue, however, that in the absence of empirical results no a priori arguments against functionalism, such as Putnam's, can be cogent. I sketch an experimental situation which would produce acquired spectrum inversion. The mere existence of qualia inversion would constitute no refutation of functionalism; only its persistence after behavioral accommodation to the inversion would properly count against functionalism. The cumulative empirical evidence from experiments on image inversion suggests that the results of actual spectrum inversion would confirm rather than refute functionalism. (shrink)
Thomas Scanlon and Derek Parfit have recently defended a meta-ethical view that is supposed to satisfy realistic intuitions about morality, without the metaphysical implications that many find hard to accept in other realist views. Both philosophers argue that truths in the normative domain do not have ontological implications, while truths in the scientific domain presuppose a metaphysical reality. What distinguishes Scanlon and Parfit’s approach from other realistic meta-ethical theories is that they maintain that normative entities exist in a way that (...) is different from (some) non-normative entities. Moreover, they think that this view about the way normative entities exist helps to answer the metaphysical worries that are often thought to plague non-naturalism. To make sense of this idea, I develop their view as a version of alethic pluralism: the position that there is more than one truth property. I argue, however, that when their view is developed in this way it fails to satisfy realistic intuitions about morality. This shows that on a plausible and initially promising reading of what it takes for a normative entity to exist in a way that is different from non-normative entities, Parfit’s and Scanlon’s non-metaphysical moral realism fails to be more realistic than contemporary versions of anti-realism. (shrink)
I argue that Stich's Syntactic Theory of Mind (STM) and a naturalistic narrow content functionalism run on a Language of Though story have the same exact structure. I elaborate on the argument that narrow content functionalism is either irremediably holistic in a rather destructive sense, or else doesn't have the resources for individuating contents interpersonally. So I show that, contrary to his own advertisement, Stich's STM has exactly the same problems (like holism, vagueness, observer-relativity, etc.) that he claims (...) plague content-based psychologies. So STM can't be any better than the Representational Theory of Mind (RTM) in its prospects for forming the foundations of a scientifically respectable psychology, whether or not RTM has the problems that Stich claims it does. (shrink)
After more than thirty-ﬁve years of debate and discussion, versions of the functionalist theory of mind originating in the work of Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor, and David Lewis still remain the most popular positions among philosophers of mind on the nature of mental states and processes. Functionalism has enjoyed such popularity owing, at least in part, to its claim to offer a plausible and compelling description of the nature of the mental that is also consistent with an underlying physicalist (...) or materialist ontology. Yet despite its continued popularity, many philosophers now think that functionalism leaves something out, in particular that functional explanations and analyses fail to account for consciousness, qualia, or phenomenal states of experience or awareness.¹ If the objection is correct, then functionalism fails in its inability.. (shrink)